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IN THE KNOW / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

August 12, 1996|Times staff writers and contributors

Partying With the Parties The Elephants are at Planet Hollywood and the Donkeys will be at the House of Blues. No, those aren't bands--they're the Republicans, who are making full use of the movie-themed restaurant in San Diego during their national convention this week, and the Democrats, who are using the West Hollywood music club as one of the sites for next Sunday's 50th birthday tribute to President Clinton. No fewer than three Planet Hollywood bashes are being held, and the highlight will surely come Tuesday night when Charlton Heston's Arena Political Action Committee lands at the Planet. We're told the restaurant has a breastplate that Chuck wore in "Ben-Hur," and he's seen driving a chariot in a diorama of famous Hollywood scenes. What, no Moses memorabilia? Maybe as part of Tuesday's event Chuck will leave stone tablets etched with the ten commandments of his PAC's activities ("Thou shalt not give to liberal causes"). We're also told that Planet Hollywood co-owner and prominent Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is not attending the convention. He's in Europe promoting his latest film, "Eraser." Too bad. Bob Dole could have used him to help erase the president's lead in the polls. Meanwhile, next Sunday, the House of Blues will host a satellite feed of the Clinton birthday festivities, which will take place at Radio City Music Hall. Whoopi Goldberg is hosting the star-studded evening, with performers including Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Shania Twain and James Earl Jones. We assume Chuck and Arnold won't be in the house.

Can He Even Beat Any Shows on UPN?

However he may be doing in the polls, don't expect Bob Dole to stir up the Nielsen ratings during the convention. Even with limited coverage in prime time, the Big Three networks have traditionally dropped to historic lows during convention weeks, and the lack of suspense this year (coupled with gradual network erosion) could push that decline to new levels. ABC, CBS and NBC combined for just 43% of the prime-time audience during the Republican convention in 1992. In addition to PBS, they face competition from a growing legion of cable networks, ranging from C-SPAN and CNN to the Family Channel and the USA Network (the Republicans have bought air time on the latter two). There's also Comedy Central, which will lampoon the festivities. NBC, meanwhile, will use the convention to trumpet its own platform of the promotional kind by taking out full-page newspaper ads today that ominously say, "Your worst problem isn't the Democrats"--and then go on to plug the network's new aliens-among-us drama, "Dark Skies." Being an equal-opportunity network, the Peacock will also seek to ruffle Democratic feathers with similar ads when the party convenes Aug. 26 in Chicago.

Coming Soon: 'The Marge Schott Story'

Let the games . . . continue? While the Summer Olympics are fading into memory, sports fans can get another fix at movie theaters this week when "Tin Cup" and "The Fan" open Friday. The two films--clearly the year's most high-profile sports-themed movies--focus on golf and baseball, respectively. Kevin Costner and Rene Russo star in "Tin Cup," a romantic comedy about a down-and-out golfer who dreams of playing in the U.S. Open, while "The Fan" stars Wesley Snipes as a baseball star being stalked by a crazed fan, played by Robert De Niro. This year will see at least 11 sports-related movies. Still to come: "D3: The Mighty Ducks" and the Tom Cruise-starring "Jerry Maguire." The seven films that have arrived thus far, however, have pulled up lame at the turnstiles, among them "Celtic Pride," "Sunset Park" and "Ed." "Historically, sports movies have been tough," said Barry London, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures' motion picture group. "The consumer may not feel they are offering anything different than what they would get by either watching events on TV or going to the actual game itself." Since next year's slate of sports-themed movies begins with "Gone Fishin'," can "Synchronized Swimming: The Movie" be far behind?

A Former Pumpkin's Legal Battle Begins

Former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin will appear in Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday morning for arraignment on charges stemming from his drug-related arrest July 12 after the heroin overdose death of the band's keyboard sideman, Jonathan Melvoin. Chamberlin's attorney, Richard Schaeffer, expects the charge will be criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Schaeffer adds, though, that given Chamberlin's lack of any prior convictions or arrests, he expects a deal will be worked out for an "alternative disposition" with a lesser penalty. Chamberlin was dismissed by the Pumpkins just days after the incident in which Melvoin died after the two, according to police reports, used heroin together in their New York hotel room. Schaeffer says the drummer is currently in a drug treatment facility and "doing quite well" combating the addiction problem that had plagued him for much of his nine years in the band.

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